Winged Foot 2010 profiles: Christian Tateo, Lely

Graduating seniors from Collier County high schools are eligible for the Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete award, which was created in 1990 by the Collier Athletic Club. The winner will be revealed at the banquet Thursday, May 27 at Naples Grande Resort. The winner receives a $10,000 scholarship — $2,500 a year for four years; the other finalists receive one-time stipends.

— Christian Tateo is all about playing the percentages. As a guard on the Lely High basketball team, the senior shot 43 percent from 3-point range. His success rate is a little better off the court, where he has dabbled in the stock market.

Tateo got interested in the market his sophomore year. He had money saved up, so he put some money in and his parents matched it.

“I’ve been trading Google, Apple, small banks, technology, Fifth Third ... I’ve always wanted to do that,” he said. “If I don’t do business and marketing, I’ll probably be a stockbroker and make money off of investments. I just love the world of business. It’s very interesting.”

Tateo is all business when it comes to the basketball court. He learned the game in legendary coach Don Stewart’s youth camps, working in them every year until he was old enough to help Stewart himself. As a junior, Tateo pushed himself to become the team’s starting point guard in what would be Stewart’s final season before retirement.

“I always wanted to be his point guard, because I would be his vocal leader on the floor,” he said. “He’s really just helped me with the game of basketball, offense, defense, sportsmanship, everything.”

After Stewart retired and the team lost 10 seniors to graduation, Ryan Bowen stepped in as head coach, but had a team without much experience. A pair of torn rotator cuffs suffered by Tateo a month before the start of practice complicated matters.

“I had to go to rehab for a month. I had to go through physical therapy,” he said. “I finally got my shot back around Christmas.”

While Tateo struggled at times with his shot, shooting the ball isn’t his preference. He’d rather live up to the responsibilities of point guard, and rack up assists.

“Those are more like my points,” he said. “My team also makes fun of me because I’d rather give someone else the points. I don’t really mind, as long as we win.”

Early in the season though, Tateo couldn’t contribute on the court because of his recovery, but he made sure he did so off the court, tutoring his backup, Donovan Facey.

“I’d sit there and usually teach him what he’s doing wrong, and help him out with whatever he needed,” Tateo said. “He got bumped up (to varsity) the beginning of the year, because I was hurt.

“After our last game, he told me I was like a mentor to him, which really helped me out. That meant a lot to me to actually affect somebody that much that they’ll say that about me.”

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